Towards a Watershed Health Legacy in the Georgia Basin: Five regional districts collaborate to “Integrate Natural Systems Thinking Into Asset Management”
Local Governments are Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin
Local governments are ‘learning by doing’ as they move forward in developing and implementing watershed-based solutions. Launched in 2012, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) provides local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island with a mechanism to share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience with each other as well as with local governments in the Metro Vancouver region.
To Learn More:
To access a comprehensive set articles, visit the homepage for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative on the Vancouver Island community-of-interest.
Click on this link: https://waterbucket.ca/viw/category/inter-regional-education-initiative/
Between March 6th and April 8th 2015, the Boards of five Regional Districts passed Resolutions that reaffirmed the commitment of all participating local governments to the next phase of IREI program implementation through 2017.
Participating Regional Districts
The five Regional Districts participating in the IREI are Capital, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting and is leading the IREI.
By 2017, an over-arching IREI program goal is that local governments in the five regions would truly understand how natural systems support municipal services and would be able to fully integrate this understanding and associated methodologies into programs, planning and funding.
Game-Changers for Watershed Health Action in British Columbia
“The IREI program for local governments connects the cascading objectives for Watershed Health, Resilient Rainwater Management, and Sustainable Service Delivery,” explains Peter Law, a Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“The initiative is designed to help local government champions integrate natural systems thinking and adaptation to a changing climate into asset management. A desired outcome is healthy streams and watersheds. So, implement ‘Design With Nature’ standards of practice for development and infrastructure servicing. Protect and restore stream corridors and fish habitat. Provide community-supporting ecosystem goods and services.”
“Released in December 2014, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework is a landmark development. Coupled with the new Water Sustainability Act, passed in May 2014, it provides local governments with a fresh impetus to do business differently. The benefits and value of Design With Nature solutions grow over time,” concludes Peter Law.
To Learn More:
To download and read an article co-authored by Peter Law and published in February 2015, click on Watershed Health, Resilient Rainwater Management, and Sustainable Service Delivery: How they are connected?
Local Governments are ‘Sharing & Learning’ in the Georgia Basin
“A changing climate and community expectations to provide higher levels-of-service at reduced levels-of-cost are drivers for the IREI program,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director. “Inter-regional collaboration accelerates implementation of standards of practice (engineering, planning and environmental) that are affordable & effective in maintaining healthy watersheds and streams.”
“A guiding principle is that IREI program elements will align with local government priorities and staff workloads. And a program goal is that local governments will leverage more with the same resources.”
“As a program lead tasked with developing an integrated watershed protection strategy on a regional scale, I have found that collaboration and sharing with staff at other regional districts through the IREI gives me new ideas and new perspectives for goals, strategies, and ways to evaluate progress,” states Dale Green, Program Manager for the Integrated Watershed Management Program, Capital Regional District.
“There are a lot of watershed protection resources available but there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction with others that are doing the same work.”
“The IREI is closely linked to CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. The Comox Valley-CAVI team includes representation from all four local governments, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the environmental stewardship sector, and the forestry sector,” states Kris La Rose, Manager of Liquid Waste Planning, Comox Valley Regional District.
“Comox Valley-CAVI facilitates collaboration at the regional level, and the IREI connects the regions for inter-regional collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, policies and approaches for rainwater management and more recently, asset management.”
“The conservation and protection of water and watersheds is a priority in the RDN and the inter-regional education initiative provides another opportunity to assist local governments to better understand the relationships between watershed and stream and site development,” states Mike Donnelly, Manager for Water & Utility Services, Regional District of Nanaimo.
“The region’s Strategic Plan recognizes the need to look for innovative ways to manage our water resource. By increasing our knowledge and understanding and by building efficient infrastructure we will reduce potential impacts and adapt successfully to new conditions.”
Metro Vancouver Region
“A number of tools, such as the Water Balance Model initiated by Metro Vancouver, have been further developed by the province and others and are now well known and utilized by municipalities across British Columbia and beyond,” states Simon So, General Manager for Liquid Waste Services, Metro Vancouver.
“Another example is the Monitoring and Adaptive Management Framework for Stormwater, developed by Metro Vancouver, its member municipalities and the Province, and approved by the Ministry of Environment in December 2014. This partnership arrangement of sharing information related to rainwater management and watershed health provides the collaboration needed to further the work and education across multiple sectors leading to positive and continuous improvement.”
“The IREI is a unique format for Georgia Basin local governments to learn from each other by sharing approaches and successes in managing our water resources,” concludes Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Officer, Cowichan Valley Regional District.
“The IREI program will integrate natural systems and climate change thinking into asset management, as well as demonstrate how local governments can progress along the ‘asset management continuum’ to achieve the goal of sustainable service delivery for watershed systems.”